Developed and Published By: Mega Cat Studios
Category: Fighting / Arcade
Release Date: 10.24.2019
Creepy Brawlers is a fighting game from Mega Cat Studios that takes almost every inch of its inspiration from the Punch-Out!! series. From the way the fighters are lined up during the match to the dodge and attack system, this one is a spooky, Halloween-themed Punch-Out!! through and through. Also, Mega Cat Studios haven’t just taken the NES-era title as inspiration for a modern iteration, they brought this title back to the NES as well, with the game available on cartridge for the long-retired console. As cool as it is to be able to buy this title on the NES in 2019, does this game hold up to the standards of the 21st century?
You are minding your own business watching a horror film in the move theater, when out of nowhere a spectral hand pulls you into the screen, transporting you into this boxing match of horrors. You are now the underdog fighter in an underworld championship, and it is up to you to fight through the ranks of classic movie monsters to win the final prize. As simple as the story is, it does just enough to get you into this style of game. You won’t be enthralled by any twist endings or meaningful dialogue, the story here is just a means to place you in the ring.
Now that you have the back story, it is time to enter the match and get to work. The system for fighting is very rudimentary and will be something you can catch onto quickly. This is a positive and a negative, as the format is unique and so it is nice to have something you can latch onto quickly, but once you have it can be a tad monotonous through the longevity of the title. You can dodge left and right, throw punches with your left and right hand, and direct those punches to the face or stomach. From there this old school fighting title becomes more of a puzzle game then anything else.
What I mean by that is, once you have the basic mechanics ready, you pretty much just need to decipher what the enemy in front of you is doing and memorize their movements. Each fighter has the same gives and does the same things over and over again, so really you are just trying to learn what to expect from each fighter while you are prepared with quick button inputs. For example, the early monsters have very simple set-ups and allow you to best them quite easily once you get into their rhythm. Two punches to the stomach, dodge left, three punches to the head, dodge right, dodge left — this is the sort of cycle you will have to get locked in to progress, as you can quickly become a pin cushion. It ends up playing a bit like a rhythm game, like Guitar Hero, as you really don’t need to even pay attention to what is happening besides nailing that chorus of button inputs. That might be a monotonous slog for some, but I found it a fun and unique challenge.
With that in mind, know that this game is hard, and you will be starting over from the beginning a lot. Much like the inspiration, you have to mow through all the baddies back to back with no saves and no breaks. So, when you get to the later bosses and are trying to master the more difficult sequences of attacks, you will get beat a lot, and have to play through all the easy matches you already have down in order to just get back to trying to learn the next monster. This is not fun, to be blunt, but it matches the NES-era way of thinking.
The pixel graphics here match up with the era that is trying to be emulated, but this title has a bit more darkness than I would have liked. Don’t get me wrong, this title is about Halloween monster movie creatures, so it being darker makes sense, but when I compare it to the only game close to it, it feels really shabby and drab. The original Punch-Out!! was so bright and colorful, and although the sprite-work here may have a bit more detail, it left me wanting more. Especially when the background and ring are so simple.
Creepy Brawlers offers an experience we haven’t gotten to really see since the Punch-Out!! series died out, and it was a fresh experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although it has a lot of the issues that NES-era title also has, it was something I enjoyed. The game takes the good with the bad, to make a product as close to the inspiration as possible, but that means there are some growing pains to work through for players new to this style or era of title. Anyone who is a Punch-Out!! fan or has a soft spot for Nintendo franchises of yesteryear in general might want to check this one out, but for those who aren’t into retro experiences, Creepy Brawlers won’t change your mind.
Buy Now – $4.99
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*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*